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Compassion Fatigue Myth? A Time For Compassion Instead of Anger

by Lori Hehn - Oct 20, 2017 9:40:53 AM
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The article by Dr. Dani McVety, The Myth Of Compassion Fatigue In Veterinary Medicine really hit home, as it reminded me of a situation that our practice encountered a couple of weeks ago.

Please read it.

My friend and mentor Alice Villalobos, DVM, once asked me if I experienced compassion fatigue in my veterinary hospice work. “No,” I quickly responded. “I don’t believe I’ll ever run out of compassion.”
I went on to explain my thoughts on compassion fatigue and how I think it’s an overused term in the veterinary industry. I told her that I felt more drained in emergency work than in hospice care, and that’s when Dr. Villalobos said something that will stick with me forever: “I believe what we really struggle with in our profession is not so much compassion fatigue as ethical fatigue.” ~ Dr. Dani McVety

I do agree with Dr. McVety that rather than compassion fatigue being the issue in our profession, it is more likely ethical fatigue. We as veterinarians and veterinary technicians are compassionate people- otherwise we wouldn't be doing this job! It can be difficult, but sometimes we have to push through the frustration and anger that we may feel due to the situations we often find ourselves in on a regular basis.

My husband who is also a veterinarian at our practice, got a call from the clinic nearby (our competitor). They said they were very busy and were unable to see a woman who had walked in with her limping dog- could our hospital see it?  He said of course, send her on over. 

When the woman walked in, it was very clear that she was homeless. She confessed that she had zero money to pay us. Rather than being upset or angry at the practice that clearly shunned her and sent her over to us, it was a time for compassion.

“I am the source of my own compassion. Therefore, it will never run out.” ~ Dr. Dani McVety

My husband examined her dog, diagnosed it with mange, sent home pain medication for the limping and treatment for the mange at no charge. He did set some expectations for future visits, and showed her kindness when it mattered most.

I asked him if he was going to call the other clinic regarding this situation, but he said no…karma always prevails. He helped someone in need and can feel good about that, and the other practice will have to deal with their own actions. Don't let others steal your compassion! 

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About Lori Hehn

Lori Hehn is a practicing veterinarian and a contributor and content manager with XPrep Learning Solutions. She has a drive for continual learning and enjoys interacting with veterinary and vet tech students. She also writes veterinary learning books for children.

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